Santa Marta
Santa Marta is the capital city of the Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

n department of Magdalena
Magdalena Department
Magdalena is a department of Colombia, located to the north of the country by the Caribbean Sea. The capital of the Magdalena Department is Santa Marta and was named after the Magdalena River...

 in the Caribbean Region
Caribbean Region
The Caribbean Region or Caribbean Coast Region is a natural region of Colombia mainly composed of eight Departments located contiguous to the Caribbean. The area covers a total land area of including the San Andres Island Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina in the Caribbean...

. It was founded in July 29, 1525 by the Spanish conqueror Rodrigo de Bastidas
Rodrigo de Bastidas
Rodrigo de Bastidas was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who mapped the northern coast of South America and founded the city of Santa Marta.-Early life:...

, which makes it the oldest remaining city in Colombia (Santa María la Antigua del Darién
Santa María la Antigua del Darién
Santa María la Antigua del Darién was a Spanish colonial town founded in 1510 by Vasco Núñez de Balboa, located in present-day Colombia approximately 40 miles south of Acandí...

 was founded earlier, but abandoned soon after). Located between the Santa Marta Mountains and the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, the city is a popular tourist destination due to its history, colonial architecture, beaches and nearby nature reserves.

Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 died at an estate named Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is a hacienda or Quinta built in the 17th century, famous for being the death place of Simón Bolívar on December 17, 1830. At that time, the estate produced rum, honey and panela...

 on the outskirts of Santa Marta on December 17, 1830. The city has been affected to some extent by the Colombian Armed Conflict
Colombian Armed Conflict
The Colombian armed conflict or Colombian Civil War are terms that are employed to refer to the current asymmetric low-intensity armed conflict in Colombia that has existed since approximately 1964 or 1966, between the Colombian government and peasant guerrillas such as the Revolutionary Armed...



Prior to the Arrival of Spanish explorers, the area where Santa Marta lies was inhabited by Amerindians from the Tairona
Tairona was a group of chiefdoms in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in present-day Cesar, Magdalena and La Guajira Departments of Colombia, South America, which goes back at least to the 1st century AD and had significant demographic growth around the 11th century.The Tairona people...

 culture, and its subsequent families: Arhuacos
The Arhuaco people, also called the Aruacos, Ica, Ijca or Bintuk, names of a Native American ethnic group part of the Chibcha family, descendents of the Tairona Culture concentrated in northern Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.-Territory:The Arhuacos live in the upper valleys of the...

 and Koguis
The Kogi or Cogui or Kaggabba, translated "jaguar" in the Kogi language are a Native American ethnic group that lives in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. They are one of the few surviving Pre-Columbian civilizations of South America...

, among others.

The city was founded on July 29, 1525 by Spanish conqueror Rodrigo de Bastidas
Rodrigo de Bastidas
Rodrigo de Bastidas was a Spanish conquistador and explorer who mapped the northern coast of South America and founded the city of Santa Marta.-Early life:...

, accompanied by some two hundred of his men and a few Amerindians. He named the city after the Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 day for Saint Martha
Martha of Bethany is a biblical figure described in the Gospels of Luke and John. Together with her siblings Lazarus and Mary, she is described as living in the village of Bethany near Jerusalem...

, which in Spain was celebrated with festivities. However, many historians argue that he named it after the Spanish city of Santa Marta de Astorgas, which he had visited. With its foundation, the Spanish colonization also started the conquering of lands from this region, and the set up of administrative functions for the colony, including a maritime port and the construction of defenses to prevent pirate raids.

During the Colonial times the city started losing its importance as maritime port to nearby city port of Cartagena
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...


During the mid-19th century, French, English and North American immigrants along with some locals started to introduce industrial ways of productions and founded trade associations among industrials and the farmers. As a result they built railways which would connect productive networks.

In 1871, the University of Magdalena
University of Magdalena
The University of Magdalena , is a public, departmental, coeducational, research university based in the city of Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.-External links:* official site...

 was founded, initially with two faculties: law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....


During the 20th century the city served as a main port for massive exports of banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

s and coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

, produced inland with the assistance of major multinational corporations.

In 1968 the government decentralized the Port Authority, leaving Santa Marta with its own Port Authority (Capitania de Puerto).

In recent years, Santa Marta has attracted large numbers of people displaced by the paramilitary
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia was created as an umbrella organization of regional far-right...

 groups operating in the area. The warm climate and the possibility of occasional work serving the tourist industry has increased the city's population drastically.


Temperatures in the city of Santa Marta ranges from 27 to 35 degrees Celsius at sea level, but the Municipality of Santa Marta stretches up to the highest snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated mountain range apart from the Andes chain that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 metres above sea level just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is the world's highest coastal range...

 and each 100 meter of higher altitude means 1 Celsius lower temperature. Rainfall in this region varies from 12 to 975 mm per month.


Tourism has its peak during December 15 to January 15 and another peak during the Easter week. The district of Rodadero is a favorite resort of Colombians together with Cartagena and San Andres. The recently renovated downtown of Santa Marta with its blend of colonial and republican architecture attracts many visitors among them several cruise ships a week. Downtown Santa Marta is also building its own international marina, planned for completion in 2011. In this way Santa Marta hopes to attract international sailing boats, especially during the hurricane season, since Santa Marta is protected from hurricanes by the surrounding mountains.
Las Fiestas del Mar (The Festival of the Sea) is an annual celebration during the midyear vacation period. One of the main events in the festival is the jetski show organized by Santa Marta Esqui. There are beauty pageants, parades and parties in the city. The Festival's slogan is "Santa Marta, la magia de tenerlo todo" ("Santa Marta, the magic of having it all").
  • Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino: Built in the 17th century, was the last home of Simon Bolivar
    Simón Bolívar
    Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

    , today it is a house/museum in his honor.

  • The Cathedral: it is a national monument built in 1766, it held the remains of Simon Bolivar until 1842.
  • La Casa de la Aduana (Customs House): it is the oldest house of America, built in 1530. Today it is the Tayrona Museum.
  • Madame Agustine House: a jewel of colonial architecture.
  • San Fernando Fort: built by Spanish conquerors to protect the city from the pirates, it is a fine sample of colonial military architecture.
  • Tayrona National Natural Park
    Tayrona National Natural Park
    The Tayrona National Natural Park is a protected area in the Colombian northern Caribbean region and within the jurisdiction of the Department of Magdalena and some 34 km from the city of Santa Marta...

    : located 34 km north of Santa Marta, it is the most important ecological reserve in Colombia. It has camping zones, virgin beaches and tropical forest. The park also has its own archeological site, Pueblito (also known as Cahirama); it is one of the 200 pre-Columbian cities discovered near Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
  • Quebrada Valencia: a majestic waterfall emerging in the middle of the rain forest.
  • Taganga: an authentic fishing town, a popular destination for scuba diving, with beautiful beaches nearby.
  • The Mamancana Natural Reserve: a wildlife reserve and a venue for practising extreme sports such as paragliding, downhill, rock climbing, and canopying.
  • Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum
    Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum
    The Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum is a public aquarium and maritime museum located in the Inca Inca Cove off the Rodadero beach in Santa Marta, Colombia. It was opened in 1965 by Captain Francisco Ospina Navia. The aquarium is part of the National Network of Museums of Colombia and part of...

    : an aquarium with a small dolphin and sea-lion show.

Sister cities

Santa Marta has one sister city
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

: Miami Beach, United States


The town has a football (soccer) team, Unión Magdalena
Unión Magdalena
The Asociación Deportiva Unión Magdalena is a Colombian soccer team founded in the year 1950 as "Los Samarios" and based in Santa Marta. It has only won one championship, in the year 1968 against Deportivo Cali in the final. Red and blue stripes compose its shirt...

, nicknamed El ciclón bananero (The Banana Cyclone).

Santa Marta is the birthplace of Colombia's most famous football player, Carlos Valderrama, as well as Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao
Radamel Falcao García Zárate , commonly known simply as Falcao, is a Colombian football striker who currently plays for Atlético Madrid....

 and Swiss international Johan Vonlanthen.

It is also the birthplace of Grammy Award-winning singer, actor and songwriter Carlos Vives
Carlos Vives
Carlos Alberto Vives Restrepo is a Grammy Award and three-time Latin Grammy Award winning-Colombian singer, composer and actor.-Biography:...


External links

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